F644 Earth Sciences MSci Undergraduate 2019
|Mode of study||Full Time|
|Typical Offers||A Level|
|Please also check Requirements and Admissions.|
|Contextual Offers||You may be eligible for an offer which is one or two grades lower than our standard entry requirements. Find out more.|
|More information||Still have questions?|
Earth Sciences is a four-year Masters degree course that has been designed to provide a comprehensive and rigorous education in all aspects of Earth Sciences with the opportunity to interact with staff at the cutting-edge of scientific research. It provides the opportunity to follow the Geology (F600) or Environmental Geosciences (F630) or Geophysics with Geology (F662) Geoscience (F643) for the first three years and undertake a detailed Research Project in the area of your choice in the fourth year. The MSci Earth Sciences course incorporates a substantial amount of independent (and group) project work which will involve you in high-level quantitative investigations, in addition to advanced key skills training.
Students who have been accepted on the BSc degree courses can choose to transfer to the four-year MSci degree in Earth Sciences (F644) at the end of their second year. This will depend on your progress in the first two years.
Years 1 to 3
Compulsory and optional modules
- You are required to choose modules from one of the routes Geology (F600), Environmental Geosciences (F630), Geophysics with Geology (F662) or Geoscience (F643).
- Research Project
- Communicating Science
- Earth Science Field Seminar
- Earth Sciences into Industry
- Petroleum Geoscience IV
- Environmental Geochemistry IV
- Deformation Processes in the Lithosphere IV
- Advanced Geophysics IV
- Earth System and Climate IV
- Earth Structure and Dynamics
We review course structures and core content (in light of e.g. external and student feedback) every year, and will publish finalised core requirements for 2019 entry from September 2018.
You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.
To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University please click here.
Please note: Current modules are indicative. Information for future academic years may change, for example, due to developments in the relevant academic field, or in light of student feedback.
Course Learning and Teaching
The programme is mainly delivered through a mixture of lectures, practical classes, tutorials and fieldwork. Typically lectures provide key information on a particular area, and identify the main areas for discussion and debate. Practical classes and fieldwork allows you to gain direct experience of practical and interpretative skills in Geology while tutorials address specific transferrable skills and allows you to raise particular problems.
The balance of these types of activities changes over the course of the programme, as you develop your knowledge and your ability as an independent learner. This is one of the key attributes that the programme develops in its' students (thereby preparing you for work or further study once you have completed the programme). In the first year you typically attend six hours a week of lectures, and 12 hours of practical classes. You are also required to attend six tutorial sessions during the academic year. Outside timetabled contact hours, you are also expected to undertake your own independent study to prepare for your classes and broaden your subject knowledge. You are expected to attend a one-week field course in the Lake District during the Easter vacation.
The balance starts to shift in the second year, as you develop your abilities as an independent learner. Lectures still play an important role in supporting you in developing your knowledge and skills, with an average of six hours a week, and you will participate in six two-hour practical classes per week across the academic year that both introduce you to, and give you the chance to practice, geological research methods. You are expected to attend field courses with the location being dependent upon exact module choices.
This move towards greater emphasis on independent learning continues in the third year. You are required to carry out a dissertation which may involve field or laboratory work during the summer vacation depending upon your exact choices and preferences. You will be assigned a tutor appropriate to your dissertation. Support for the dissertation will take the form of one-to-one tutorial sessions. This provides you with the opportunity to engage with academic issues at the forefront of geological research, in a learning environment that is very much focused on discussion and debate of these issues. This places a premium on preparing effectively for classes. This emphasis on using the independent study and research skills developed in earlier years is continued through the dissertation that all final year students undertake and which is the capstone of their undergraduate degree. Under the supervision of a member of academic staff with whom you will typically have three or four one-to-one supervisory meetings, you will undertake a detailed study of a particular area resulting in a significant piece of independent research. At Level 3 you are required to attend a one-week field trip to Cyprus, and there is the optional module which requires you to attend a field trip to Tenerife.
In the final year you will undertake another research-based dissertation that may involve field or laboratory work during the summer vacation depending upon your exact choices and preferences. The dissertation is conducted in collaboration with your academic tutor, the tutor being assigned dependent upon the nature of the research choice. Modules available in the final year mean that you will be expected to deliver seminars to your peers and to academic staff. You will also take part in a project developed in conjunction within an academic tutor and an industrial sponsor.
Throughout the programme, you will also have access to an academic tutor who will provide you with academic support and guidance. Typically you will meet with your tutor six times a year, in addition to which all members of teaching staff have an open door policy and are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis.
The Department also has an exciting programme of weekly one-hour research seminars which undergraduate students are strongly encouraged to attend, and there is a seminar programme run throughout the year by the student-led Arthur Holmes Society.
Subject requirements, level and grade
In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:
- We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study
- Two science subjects at A level or equivalent are required for all courses
- For the Geophysics route, Mathematics or Further Mathematics at A level at grade B or above, or a comparable qualification in Mathematics is required.
- We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking as part of our offer
- Typical IB score 37 to include 666 in higher level subjects
- If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Centre offers multidisciplinary degrees to prepare you for a range of specified degree courses
- If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre
- Please consult the University website for required evidence of English language proficiency.
- We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.
Science A levels
Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.
English Language requirements
Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.
How to apply
Information relevant to your country
Fees and Funding
Full Time Fees
|EU Student||£9,250.00 per year|
|Home Student||£9,250.00 per year|
|Island Student||£9,250.00 per year|
|International non-EU Student||£24,300.00 per year|
Please be advised that there is an additional fee of £120 to cover first-year fieldwork. Fieldwork costs for subsequent years are dependent on modules chosen.
The tuition fees shown for home and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.
The tuition fees shown for overseas students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).
Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.
Scholarships and funding
"Durham offered more than just a degree. It opened doors to opportunities which have proved invaluable in becoming a more rounded person. From the Durham University-led BP summer internship to taking a year out to work for the Environment Agency, I honed skills that I’d picked up in lectures and gained vital industry context." Rosie, 2017, ESRI UK
Earth Scientists perform critical roles in every society worldwide. Earth Scientists locate and manage the natural resources we need to support our energy needs, to develop new technology and progress as a society. They protect the planet from humankind's excesses, and they protect humankind from natural disasters. The UK and indeed the world needs Earth Scientists more than ever and a degree from Durham University will ensure that you are able to maximise this opportunity, develop a successful career in geoscience, and play an important part in society.
Our degrees offer the perfect start to a huge range of careers in the Earth and Environmental Sciences. Our graduates go on to secure employment within environmental management, engineering geology, hydrology and hydrogeology, natural resource exploration and management (oil, gas, minerals), GIS, and governmental environmental agencies.
Durham Earth Science degrees are also widely recognised as an excellent general degree qualification by a broad range of employers. Our graduates excel in quantitative analysis, problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, data synthesis, hypothesis testing, and in dealing with uncertainty. Many of our graduates have successful careers as professionals in the financial services, insurance, data analysis, accounting, management, business, and education sectors.
Of those students that left in 2017:
- 95% are in employment or further study
Of those in employment:
- 90% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £20,000
(Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2016/17 graduates. The DLHE survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing six months after graduation. Full definitions for the DLHE Record can be found here:www.hesa.ac.uk/support/definitions/destinations)
The exposure to both academic and industry circles during my time at Durham was invaluable, which was greatly helped by the CeREES Geo-Energy Scholarship Programme offered by the department of Earth Sciences. The department of Earth Sciences is a highly regarded department both in terms of research and the calibre of teaching.1
BP has enjoyed a productive relationship with Durham's Department of Earth Sciences, recruiting many geologists and geophysicists over the years and working collaboratively on a number of research projects. In recent years the establishment of CeREES has seen the quantity and quality of applicants increase. The 'industry-savy' aspects of the programme equip graduate students with a wider and deeper grasp of the challenges and opportunities the energy industry affords, adding value that clearly manifests itself in the students' applications and at interview. With the recent establishment of the Durham Energy Institute I look forward to this trend strengthening. In our current intake I've been particularly pleased to see a Durham undergraduate competing successfully against those with MScs and PhDs from other leading universities.
All but one of our degree courses are accredited by our professional body (The Geological Society of London - GSL), demonstrating that our undergraduate courses cover the range of skills expected of a trained geoscientist at this level. The Geoscience degree course (F643) is not accredited and provides a more flexible route for students who are unable to carry out the amount of fieldwork required by the GSL for accreditation.
Open days and visits
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Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place: www.durham.ac.uk/opendays
Discover Durham Tours
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Overseas Visit Schedule
Earth Science draws upon elements of physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and physical geography. You will study the present state of the Earth to develop an understanding of the geological past. You will look at climate change, the formation of the oceans, mass extinctions, the nature of rocks and minerals, and the structure and chemistry of the Earth. Earth Science embraces the entire planet from the surface to the core and also contributes to our understanding of other planets in our solar system and beyond.
The Department is very proud of its high-quality teaching, underpinned by internationally renowned research. We are based in a purpose-built, modern building with state-of-the-art facilities for teaching and research. We welcome hard-working, motivated applicants and take pride in our graduates, who go on to a wide range of highly successful careers in the Earth Sciences, both in industry and research.
- 98% of our Earth Sciences students said that the teaching on their course was intellectually stimulating in the National Student Survey 2017 (sector-wide average 86%)
- 5th in The Complete University Guide 2018
- 4th in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2018.
The Department has premises on the Mountjoy Site very close to the University’s IT facilities and Bill Bryson Library. We have excellent equipment including: extensive computing facilities (including multimedia PCs and UNIX workstations); microscopes; TV/microscope projection facilities; four lecture/practical laboratories with comprehensive A/V facilities; extensive state-of-the-art geochemical research laboratories; a micropaleontology laboratory; a geophysics seismic research facility; extensive rock sample and thin section teaching and research collections. Our Department is designated as a mainstream centre for teaching and research covering the broad spectrum of Earth Sciences. We are a friendly, social and informal community of about 80 staff and 300 students, more than 70 of whom are working for MSc and PhD degrees. In the recent HEFCE teaching quality review, the Department was graded Excellent.